My parents are out of town. You know what that means: I get to play with my very best friend, Mr. Newman.
As far as dogs go, I guess he's a good dog. He comes when he's called and doesn't eat the neighbors, although he did pee on my friend one time.
He's calming down in his old age. He's still neurotic, but slightly less so.
He's easily excited by everything - birds, people, plants, life - everything excites Mr. Newman.
I stop by my folks' house on my way to work. I open the gate to the backyard. I start the counting in my head.
I've never gotten to 3. I hear his collar jingling a moment before the first bark. I know what's going through his head as he rounds the corner of the house: "Oh boy! This is it! Someone is finally trespassing in MY YARD!"
This lasts only a split second as he recognizes me and diverts from Attack Mode into Jumping On Ricky Mode. "Oh boy! It's That Guy! The odd one the Nice People made! HE'S HEEERE!"
Then a switch goes off in Mr. Newman's head. If That Guy is here, and the Nice People haven't fed him yet (all day long - can you believe it? It's almost 7:30 in the morning), this might be his only chance. He starts to jump on me, yipping urgently. If he doesn't get help from me, then what will he do? Who will help him?
"Oh no! Today might be it! Today might be THE DAY I DON'T GET FED! I knew this day would come! Someone has kidnapped the Nice People, and I'M NOT GOING TO GET FED!"
I ignore him and walk the shed, where my dad keeps the dog grub. Newman jumps on me the whole way. I talk to him calmly, trying to reason with him.
"Down, Newman. Newman, get down. I'm getting you some food. Just relax, buddy. Get back. Down, Newman. Get down."
"Here! Over here! The Nice People keep the food over here! Quick!"
"Decaf, Newman, decaf."